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July 5, 2012In 2006, Texas Tech brought one of the most potent offenses in the nation to Amon Carter Stadium to face a mid-major TCU team beginning to re-make a name for itself.
No one, at the time, would have expected the TCU defense to hold Graham Harrell and Tech's pass-happy offense created by Mike Leach to no touchdowns in the game.
Frog fans can pinpoint many different moments in that decade that marked the arrival of this new era of Horned Frog football.
That game was one.
(Not to mention one of the defining plays of the decade in the "Great White Hit")
Just six years later, the roles have reversed.
TCU is the dominant force now representing a BCS conference, with a weaker Texas Tech team making the trek back to Fort Worth, with a 28-23-3 record historically against TCU.
This game ends TCU's "easy" streak through the beginning of conference play, which, barring any unforeseen circumstances, should leave the Frogs 6-0 going into the game.
It will be the second week in a row TCU will face an opponent who just took on the other Big 12 newbie, West Virginia, the game prior - so, most likely, taking a loss.
As has been the stereotype of years past, Tech's offense will easily be the strength of the 2012 team.
The Red Raiders return QB Seth Doege, who passed for just over 4,000 yards last season for 28 touchdowns. Doege had to pick up the offense and carry it on his arm after starting RB Eric Stephens and backup RB DeAndre Washington both fell to injury during the season, leaving Tech vastly one-dimensional.
Tech reverted to a pass-happy spread similar to that of the Leach days to compensate for its lack of quality rushers.
Doege knows the string of games against the Big 12 newcomers will be a challenge, but said he believes they're not as much of an underdog as everyone expects.
"I'm excited about both [TCU and West Virginia]," Doege told RedRaiderSports.com. "They bring a lot of good things to this conference and they're both going to be top 10 teams when we play them. They're going to be two fun games. I'm excited, but also we expect to win those games. We're not going to take a backseat to anybody no matter what the preseason hype is or what it may be."
Doege's confidence comes partially from a trio of returning receivers that proved they were in tune with the senior QB during his junior campaign.
Senior WR Darrin Moore looks to be the biggest playmaker on the squad, after a quick start in 2011 that was cut short by a leg injury that debilitated him even after he returned late in the season. Doege also has check down options in Jr. Eric Ward and senior Alex Torres.
It's been a while since Tech put any kind of emphasis on defense. In the Leach days, the idea was to just outscore the opponent.
But after a 5-7 (2-7 in Big 12 play) season last year, coach Tommy Tuberville has put a new emphasis on defense. Tuberville began by cleaning house among his defensive coaching staff, not including former defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow who resigned to take up his old post at TCU.
Tuberville then switched his scheme from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3 which will help control a running attack.
On the field, Tech's defense is full of junior college transfers brought in to give a semi-veteran feel throughout a group of first-year starters.
Don't let all the changes fool you into thinking this defense will be a strength, because it will be the same old game of try and outscore the opponents throughout the season.
Frankly, TCU should outright be the better team.
Tech has little depth in a weak defensive backfield that should allow TCU QB Casey Pachall to easily dissect the Tech defense.
TCU should balance the offense as much as possible to keep Tech's offense on the sideline - its only hope of staying in games.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
While no team should ever look ahead, this game will be perfect to work on tweaking a few weaknesses before the real grind of the 2012 season begins.
If everything goes as planned, it will also be a week to give some starters rest when the Frogs jump to a big lead in the second half.